“Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.” Exodus 16:4-5
When the Israelites were liberated from Egypt by God, they were led into the desert by Moses and almost immediately started to grumble and complain, wishing that they had died in Egypt, rather than be led into starvation in the wilderness. The situation must have been tough and they were undoubtedly tired and hungry, as well as disappointed that God had taken them to the desert, instead of somewhere more suitable and habitable.
However, their faith in a God who had rescued them from slavery and oppression at the hands of a tyrant, quickly evaporated with the heat of the desert sun. Only two months after they had passed through the red sea and escaped the clutches of Pharaoh’s army, they had begun to moan and complain about their predicament.
In the full power of his grace, God speaks to Moses and says that he will send them bread (manna) in the morning and meat (quail) in the evening, for them to eat. God adds a few simple instructions; The Israelites are to collect only enough for each day, and enough on the sixth day to last them through the seventh (Sabbath) day. Some of the Israelites don’t follow these simple instructions and resort to keeping the bread for the next day, resulting in smelly, maggot infested food. Others try to go out to collect food on the seventh day and find none.
We may laugh at the ineptitude of the Israelites in being unable to follow instructions, or despair at them for their lack of faith, despite the amazing deliverance God had provided for them. It is easy to see from the outside how God provides for people and how his power works in their lives, but it is often more difficult to see it in our own lives.
God is always faithful, but we can be very quick to forget His goodness and his provision when we face difficult circumstances. Just like the Israelites, we can forget the salvation He has won for us through Jesus, and get caught up in the present struggles that we encounter. When we are in the midst of turmoil we need to look back and see the path that God has led us on, and the seas he has parted to bring us out of danger. That is not to minimise the difficulties life throws at us, but sometimes the only way to move forward is to look back and God’s past faithfulness.
We have wonderful promises contained within the word of God and if we hold onto them and write them on our hearts, we have nothing to fear – he will provide! As with the Israelites, he gives us exactly what we need, when we need it. Some of the Israelites could not fully trust him, even when God did send the food from heaven, and they stored it out of fear that it might not arrive the next day. We have a certain hope and a faithful God. Let us live in the knowledge that he will provide for our needs on a daily basis.
Corrie Ten Boom was a great woman of Christ who lived through the Second World War and risked her life to save Jews from the Nazis in Holland. In her book “The Hiding Place” she describes a conversation she had with her father about God’s provision at the right time:
“When I was a little girl, “I said, “I went to my father and said, “Daddy, I am afraid that I will never be strong enough to be a martyr for Jesus Christ.” “Tell me,” said Father, “When you take a train trip to Amsterdam, when do I give you the money for the ticket? Three weeks before?” “No, Daddy, you give me the money for the ticket just before we get on the train.” “That is right,” my father said, “and so it is with God’s strength. Our Father in Heaven knows when you will need the strength to be a martyr for Jesus Christ. He will supply all you need just in time”